Though construction started in March, Collegedale-area residents are finally beginning to see the long-anticipated cultural and recreational center, The Commons, take shape.
Those passing by the 8-acre property behind Collegedale City Hall are sure to catch a glimpse of the frame structures that will eventually become The Commons' entry pavilion and dual restroom facilities.
"I think some folks were starting to believe that we were never going to get it built," chuckled David Barto, director of the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation, which is spearheading the project. "So it's nice to see it coming out of the ground."
When construction is completed in late October, the erected facilities will be surrounded by a shaded market area, 30,000 square feet of paved surface covered by 32 oak trees. The shade market will be joined by a 25,000-square-foot covered pavilion market space to the east, which will break ground soon and wrap up in October.
Also expected to be complete by October is a 27-foot stone clock tower that will be placed in front of Collegedale Public Library. Barto said planners initially intended to put the clock tower at The Commons, but opted to instead build it where it would be visible to drivers on Apison Pike.
"It'll be a great focal point for the community," he said. "A lot of old towns have the old courthouse or the old, beautiful church at the center of town, but Collegedale really doesn't have that."
The tower will also bear digital signage for The Commons, the library, city hall and Imagination Station playground.
Together, these projects make up phase one of the three-phase project, estimated to be completed in entirety by 2021. So far, the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation has raised $4.3 million for the effort, and about $3.8 million of those funds were used for phase one, Barto said.
Phase two of the development, which includes a majority of The Commons' parking, a storage barn, underground drainage, landscaping and other work on the back half of the property, is expected to cost $1.9 million, he said.
Future phases will also bring a community center, event hall, and a sound stage to serve the East Tennessee Symphony Orchestra. Barto previously indicated the timeline for these components is dependent on funding.
Since CTF already has $500,000 left over from the first phase, the foundation will soon begin a $1.4 million fundraising drive for the next stage of the project. The push will include naming opportunities for bricks that will stretch along the sidewalk from the entry pavilion to the market pavilion.
Barto said he hopes to collect the needed funds between now and December so that construction is complete before July 4 of next year, when Collegedale celebrates its 50th anniversary.
The Commons will host its official grand opening for phase one in November, though a concrete date has not yet been selected. Learn more about the project by visiting collegedale.foundation.
Email Myron Madden at email@example.com